NRS HydroSkin Warmth?

-- Last Updated: Apr-30-07 11:59 AM EST --

I just ordered the NRS HydroSkin Pants & Long Sleeve Shirt for me and the HydroSkin Capris and Long Sleeve Shirt for my wife. I guess my question is: Will this be enough for 55 degree water and 60 to 75 degree days? (Never more than 15 minutes from Shore)

Maybe not — not for long term imm.
I have worn my hydroskin farmer John and Top under similar conditions and been fine. But this is with a sit-on-top kayak that I can re-enter in a manner of seconds. I would probably be fine for a 15 minute swim to shore in 55 F. water with hydroskin (I’m well insulated and don’t mind cold a lot). For most people they will feel pretty cold in 55 F. water just wearing hydroskins. I use mine when the water warms up to ~63 or so for surfing, when I’m in the water a lot and they work fine.

Hydroskin warmth
I have a hydroskin farmer john and a hydroskin long sleeve shirt. I consider that combination marginal for 55 deg water. And not even marginal if you do not have a good dry top to prevent water flushing in through the neck. I would also suggest you might want some type of paddling pant with ankle closures to prevent flushing water through the legs of the hydroskins. Ankle sealing paddling pants have some problems of their own but I will not get into that. A good tight fitting higher bootie might be enough to limit the flushing out the legs. I have done some rolling in just the hydroskins and am always amazed at how cold the first couple of minutes feel as the water rushes in to fill the hydroskins even in 60-65 deg water. For 55 deg water I wear a 3mm farmer john wet suit with the hydroskin shirt over the top and a good drytop with latex gaskets. As is always mentioned it pays to go take a practice swim near shore with someone available to help you out if necessary to really check out how well your immersion protection actually works.

As a guess…
If recall correctly you have some time in OC in moving water, your wife is likely to be a little more apprehensive. Yes? And for whatever reason many women feel cold a little faster than the same sized guy. So I’d add a thicker layer for her, if nothing else to make her feel better covered.

If you are talking about 15 minutes from the shore of Long Lake on Mt Desert Isle, aside from having to watch the trespassing issue (houses around there) you could probably work up an emergency solution by carrying a large, thick plastic raincoat like you can get cheap at discount stores or outlets. If anyone does take a swim huddle up under that in the sun (if you can find any in June up there).

Carry dry clothes, using double-bagged garbage bags if necessary. If things are staying cold once on shore, consider tying the boats off to something and walking back in dry clothes to get the car and call it a paddle. The walk and the dry clothes will do the job in those air temps unless it is pouring rain.

No matter what, make sure you have a wind-blocking/water-shedding layer up top for if you do get wet and are back in the wind again.

Throw all of the above out if you are thinking of the ocean. For a one week stay up there, it’s worth the money to go on a tour and let someone esle worry about the clothing part. They’ll probably have wetsuits to put you into, and you’ll learn all kinds of things about the place that you wouldn’t have found out on your own.

Paddle Jacket/Pants
Wouldn’t hurt to add a little insurance with a basic paddle jacket and paddle pants. Those outer layers can always be stowed if it gets too warm. Really does become a tough question to nail down to a definitive yes/no answer. A lot of variables involved.

As Celia alluded to, keep your wife warm and happy for is she is cold and miserable your going to be the same even if you’re not in the water, if you get my drift.

Back to paperwork.

See you on the water,


Hyde Park, NY

hydroskin = 0.5mm neoprene

– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 5:04 PM EST –

I looked at the NRS website and they talk about Hydroskin having 0.5 mm neoprene as its insulating factor.

The temps you mention are what we have here in in the SF Bay area often, and I wear a 3mm farmer john all the time for this. I sometimes wear a shirt like Hydroskin under my wetsuit (or will sometimes do just Polypro).

I have a short sleeve shirt that sounds similar to the Hydroskin. This shirt worked perfectly by itself for warm water snorkeling and paddling (Hawaii and Baja). Wasn't enough for my GF, who wore a 3mm shorty there.

That all said, you could go naked and assuming you could get to shore in 15 minutes, you should be fine. But it wouldn't be comfortable. Based on the chart at, you have 1 to 2 hours of immersion before exhaustion without the Hydroskin, and the Hydroskin would extend this some.

My thoughts on Hydroskin

– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 6:56 PM EST –

I’ve been involved in a couple “aggressive wet exits” on both white water and flat water with water temps ranging from low 40’s to low 50’s and the Hydroskin worked well for me. However, I’m accustomed to functioning in cold water and haven’t had to swim for more than a few minutes anyway – but I have been immersed in 40 degree water for a few minutes got out, air temps were only about 55, and spent another 3 hours paddling in the Hydroskin with soaking wet clothes over top. I was a bit a chilly and slightly uncomfortable, but never did I feel that my physical condition was in jeopardy. I should mention that I did have plenty of dry clothes, but I wanted to see how myself as well as the Hydroskin would perform in crappy conditions. I wear the Hydroskin vest and shorts, for me it’s a good combination. It keeps my core temp regulated and allows my extremities to dry out. Ultimately for me, and this is based on what I know I can physically handle, the hydro skin would definitely work for a brief swim even in icy water. You also have the convenience of being able to use it even in the warmer months as opposed to the 3mm suit. I live in an area with brutal winters and hot summers but the transition time between being able to paddle and not paddle is relatively short, so the Hydroskin is a great investment in place of the thicker suit. Hope that helps

Thank You
I appreciate the feedback. I will have dry clothes with us (just in case) and I am planning on staying near the shore (besides there is probably more to see). I will find an outer layer to wear if the weather is colder than anticipated - Acadia National Park - 3rd week of June anyone’s guess. I do know that some will be swimming in some of the lakes that are only 55 degrees(approx) by choice. Ours will be by accident.


hydroskin + evaporation
Just a word of warning. If you are wearing hydroskin be sure to have a wind barrier or vapor barrier handy.

I have found myself very chilled in my hydroskin pants sitting on a beach after rescue training. It was in central Florida in February -maybe 65 degree water and 70 degree air temp. A slight breeze will cut through hydroskin and .5 isn’t much to protect you from evaporative cooling.

My finding is that hydroskin actually cools me after I get out of the water.

Good Advice
Posted by: kayakjourneys “If you are wearing hydroskin be sure to have a wind barrier or vapor barrier handy”

Good advice I will make sure we have a wind breaker with us.

MDI paddling in June

– Last Updated: Apr-30-07 7:33 PM EST –

If you are on the interior lakes of MDI the water temperataure is going to be above 55 degrees. Echo Lake and Long Lake both have beaches!

I live in Western Maine on a lake; ice out was last week. The water will be wetsuit water until Memorial Day. Then only kids go in. I teach a rescue class the first week of June. The class and I are in the water for an hour and use NRS Hydroskins ( the shorty farmer john and long sleeve top). We find this just the right combo for that week.

By the end of June the water is fine to swim in. Your limitation is how far you can swim comfortably. Long Lake is long and narrow and can funnel wind. Youre right, there is more interesting stuff on shore.

The sea temperature around MDI rarely climbs out of the 50's. Thats an entirely different animal. The sea temp is 41 today. I dont allow any of my groups on the ocean without at least a full wetsuit or drysuit at anytime.

The potential tresspass thing is a red herring. Only vacation home owners get upset about "strangers" landing. Locals will welcome you. At any event its not illegal if it is an emergency.

Exactly the same impression as
kayakjourneys. I’m a well insulated boy and rarely wear hydroskin anymore because it really isn’t warm. If I do wear it, I usually wear something else over top to cut the wind. One exception is that I like to wear the hydroskin shorts in summer.


Doesn’t work for me
Under any conditions. I just don’t get it. I have the top and shorts. Shorts are OK but on top I start to sweat right away and the next thing I know I’m chilled. The wind blows and I freeze on a warm day. Get in the water and the thin insulation just doesn’t do it for me.

I can’t recommend it.

I have a top I’ll sell you.

Long sleeve.


Great Information
Kayamedic that information is very helpful. Do you recommend any particular area to paddle?

Red herring?
I appreciate knowing that the local homeowners are decent about emergencies, but in its usual meaning red herring is not quite on key here. I’ve done classes on Long Pond and observed a number of what were clearly seasonal homes around the place (like maybe the guy near the beach with his own seaplane), and it is not like there are signs saying that the year-round residents are cool about kayakers landing on their shore. This a matter of local knowledge, not purposely created diversions.

Re: Thoughts on Hydroskin
I got both the hydroskin john with a 3mm wetsuit jacket and the 3mm farmer john.

I wear a coolmax wicking type jersey and shorts/tights with both.

For me, there is a marked difference in how warm the 3mm is over the .5

I had the wetsuit on last autumn when I wound up in the upper niagara and even with ambient temps in the 60s I’ve a feeling I’d have been in serious trouble had I been in the hydroskins.

I also have sealskinz gloves and socks on.

The farmer anythings are gonna let water in from above. I have yet to experience any water comming in at the ankles on either.

If its not posted

– Last Updated: May-01-07 10:36 AM EST –

access is permissible by Maine law.
I am a local!! No I dont have signs saying welcome!

Its funny, people from away are always into signage. There is alot of hiking in Maine. Most of the trail heads are not signed.

Its a little different from the rest of New England.

If an emergency arises
I would think there would not be a problem. If someone capsizes then the nearest point of relief is the destination of choice (private or not). I would hope an owner would understand.

NRS "Mystery"
The “evaporative cooling” effect is a common problem with many types of synthetics that will initally protect from cooler water immersion. NRS has apparently recognized this by introducing a new type of material that essentially has the insulating properties of Hydroskin with a windproof surface. I believe its called “Mystery”…but better check NRS to be sure. Looks like slick wetsuit stuff…I have no idea how it works in practice.

Everyone’s a little different …

– Last Updated: May-01-07 5:02 PM EST –

... when it comes to cold water tolerance. I have some hydroskins (top and bottom) ... use when water temps are in the mid 60's and air temps are the same, up to low 70's. I find them to be too hot when the air temps go much above that, especially when the sun is bright. Water in the 50's and air temps up to mid 70's, I find a dry suit is more comfortable... Others might use heavier gage wet suits for those temps (I don;t have a wet suit). I would not want to be in the water with in hydoskins if the temps were in the 50's unless I could get out of the water in 5 minutes or less.

I know we're all different when it comes to planning and safety margins. For me, I'd rather error on the side of caution. Maybe in the situation you descibe, 15 minutes in the water is the absolute max, and you could probably get out a lot faster. There's a lake near my house that I use for quick paddles. Right now the water is high 50's. If I was right along the shore I could get out in a max 15 minutes ... if I went straight for shore. But if I was further out ... cutting accross a cove ... or took a few moments to collect my gear if some things got away ... or tried to do a paddle float re-entry and failed, I could be 30 minutes or more in the water. For me, hydroskins wouldn't provide the safety margin I'd feel comfortable with. So I use a dry suit, light polartec top, bottom and socks, neo gloves and hat. That way, if I end up in the water, I can relax, access, and make a plan for getting back in the boat... no time pressure.